Books: A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History Of The Grateful Dead

By Dennis McNally

It bears the least surprising title in memory, but this authorized biography by the group's longtime publicist isn't all cheerful cliche. It's rife with little-known facts: McNally reports that roughly half the band experimented with Scientology. Yet McNally's greatest asset is not his inside gossip but his encyclopedic knowledge of the '60s counterculture. The book loses some charm halfway through, when constant touring takes over, making this 684-page tome much like a Dead show. Only fans will sit through the whole thing, but moments of drama and virtuosity abound. --By Benjamin Nugent

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